American Foreign Policy after Bush's Speech of 6/24/02
US Inaction Hurts Peace in the Middle East
The more President Bush waits to deliver his Middle East policy speech, the more it hurts peace in the Middle East. The Israeli government is in a rampage, reoccupying the Palestinian cities, towns, villages, and refugee camps. While doing this, more Palestinians are killed, injured, or arrested. Such Israeli atrocities have demonstrated so far to bring more violent reactions from Palestinians. This means only more violence, not security through oppression as Sharon has argued.
The US intervention, in the form of announcing an American policy in the Middle East is essential to revive hopes for peace. More delay only plays in the hands of the expansionists among the Israelis. They prosper on the US inaction. A fair US policy with immediate implementation will put an end to the adventurous and violent policies of Ariel Sharon. More important is that it will help the image of the United States among Arabs and Muslims. Most important, it will contribute to peace between Palestinians and Israelis. It should not be delayed any longer.
How is Bush's speech going to address Israeli and Palestinian concerns?
What is unique about the expected Bush speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it is the first time, after Eisenhower, an American President attempts to articulate an American foreign policy in the Middle East. The US foreign policy has always been tied to the Israeli policies in the Middle East. It will be an interesting event to observe. Is President Bush going to announce a US foreign policy that is independent from Israeli policy? That will be a breakthrough and probably the beginning of a process that will lead to a real peace in the Middle East and around the world.
A more realistic possibility is that the President may adopt the Israeli policy and make it as the official US foreign policy. Let's compare the President's speech with the Sharon policy, which has so far focused on the following points. First, there should be no Palestinian state. Instead, a Palestinian entity could be established on 42% of Palestinian territories. Second, the main function of the Palestinian Authority (entity) is to serve as a guard for Israel (security). Third, there will be no return to the 1967 borders. Fourth, there should be no timetable for the Israeli withdrawal or for the establishment of a final Palestinian state. Finally, the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, is irrelevant. New reforms are needed to replace his leadership. It will be interesting to see whether President Bush will come up with independence from Israeli policies or make the covert ties more overt with Israel.
With regard to Palestinian concerns, Palestinians first want to see an end of the brutal Israeli occupation, including the release of all Palestinian prisoners . Second, they want to see a sovereign, viable, and permanent (not provisional) Palestinian state. Third, settlements must be dismantled because they have been illegally built on Palestinian lands. Fourth, East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, is the capital of Palestine. Fifth, Israel must withdraw its forces to the June 4, 1967 borders, like withdrawal from Sinai. Sixth, the refugee problem should be resolved according to relevant UN resolutions. Finally, remaining issues, like water resources, should be negotiated fairly, not dictated by Israel.
It will also be very interesting to see how President Bush will address these Palestinian concerns. Will he, for example, give hope to Palestinians that their long suffering is finally coming to an end?